21 December 2009

British Airways strike revoked

After putting at risk the Christmas holidays for thousands of travellers, it finally seems that British Airways cabin crew will no longer go on the 12 days strike previously announced. A court injunction forbid the action on the grounds of illegal voting procedure in deciding for the strike. According to the court, many of the workers within BA’s unions Unite placed their votes even though having previously taken voluntary redundancy and being no longer formally involved in British Airways.

Despite the comforting news for passengers, the issue within the air flight company seems far from resolved. The dispute between the management and the unions generated over plans of important reductions in staff as well as introduction of substantial and unfavourable changes in contract for cabin crew. Following the workers’ discontent, the unions had announced a strike from December the 22nd to January the 2nd which would have obviously meant enormous losses for the airline company, given the high season for the travelling industry.

In fact, workers taking part to strike action were calculated to be around 13,500 members which would have left most of BA air fleet to the ground. BA, however, did suffers losses from the turmoil created in the last days, as shares went down by more than 2%.

After the court’s decision, the two parties in question seems to still be set on controversial positions. British Airways declared the planned strike is part of an “old-style trade union militancy” which in no way can contribute to re-establishing the company’s profitability. On the other hand, Unite spokesperson said the court’s decision came as a disgrace to democracy and warned as well that the threat of industrial action is not over as BA employees are apparently planning to take a new ballot.

14 December 2009

EasyJet CEO quitting his post

After four years as easyJet chief executive, Andy Harrison, is announcing he is stepping down from his post. This is the fifth resignation from the company's management board, following the latest from Chairman Sir Colin Chandler earlier in April. Before him, easyJet saw its finance director, commercial director, communications director and procurement director all leaving the board over the last twelve months.

Although Harrison declared he is quitting “in order to find new challenges”, the reason for his departure is viewed by many to be in the long-running dispute with EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. The disagreement which has quickly become a public battle over the last year concerned the company's expansion plan and fleet growth promoted by the executive board.

This latter involved the future addition of 109 Aibus aircrafts by 2012 which would represent a 50% increase of the existing fleet. Sir Stelios has repeatedly adverted what he sees as an incautious plan, given the severe implications the recession has had within the airline industry. On the other hand, Harrison's response was to point out the high penalties that easyJet would have to incur when cancelling orders for financing the purchase of new planes.

In the meantime, the series of executive managers leaving the board has already had negative effects on easyJet's shares, which have dropped 2.7 per cent in value, as investors have seen the turbulence in the company's management board to be a potential reason for under performance in the short term.

02 December 2009

Ski Christmas Holidays in Val d’Isère

French Alps have numerous ski holiday resorts that see returning and new coming visitors every year, with peaks during winter holidays or for the Christmas break.

A very attractive destination for Christmas ski holidays is certainly Val-d’Isère, a commune in the Savoie department which earlier this year has hosted the World Ski Championships 2009. Val d’Isère is part, together with close commune Tignes, of what is known as the “Espace Killy”, the perfect ski paradise area with more than 180 miles of ski pistes of all types and levels and more than 250 acres of off-piste.

The resort is structured in about seven small villages, including the old town of Val d’Isère, and has built over the years an up market reputation for ski holidays which is attracting ski lovers from everywhere.

It is a mix of natural conditions and technical infrastructures that make Val-d’Isère the ideal ski spot. The high altitude leaves little space for disappointment of finding runs without snow, whereas the extensive number of lift-served off slope runs together with a wide offer of ski courses and packaged holiday deals are all factors which make this location highly recommendable.

The resort is not only well known for its natural winter beauty but for the lively buzz of after-ski activities as well. The place has many polished shops as well as bars and restaurants filled with people until early hours in the morning.

Nonetheless, Val-d’Isère is also a very popular option for family ski holidays because of facilities and tailored packages offered. Family ski passes are a good deal to save money, whereas ski schools and instructors are particularly attentive to groups of young learners. Also, many chalets offer ad-hoc menus for children and buses are running regularly around the resort, allowing skiers with children to explore at ease off hand runs as well.